Monthly Archives: May 2008

Insider Baseball

I annoyed poor Dawn on Saturday by following the DNC RBC meeting on C-SPAN TV and radio all day. Heard Harold Ickes claim that the Michigan compromise commits violence to and hijacks the process.

For the record, though. I am not at all comfortable with awarding the uncommitteds to Obama. I say this as someone who is totally drunk on the Obama Kool-Aid, as well having come to loathe Hillary Clinton with a surprising passion.

At the very least, if they were going to seat the Michigan delegation, they needed to give to Clinton the full 73. She was on the ballot, people. She got the votes. Not just uncomfortable, I’m pretty solidly opposed to taking away four from her. Count me convinced, Harold Ickes.

But Nate Silver over at 538 says that Obama couldn’t concede to the 73-55 split without implying that he supports Clinton’s claim to the popular vote totals in Michigan. Or, the other way around, if Clinton hadn’t been claiming the popular vote lead so vocally, (so loudly? in so shrill a way?), then Obama might have been nicer.

But, even so, Chuck Todd claims that Obama had the RBC votes for a 64-64 split, but that would have been a closer vote than the eventual 69-59. So he was nicer than he could have been. Still, Todd adds this semi-cryptic update:

Also, according to those with knowledge of the Michigan agreement, it is fair to claim Clinton the winner of Michigan. But they caution against counting her popular vote in the state.

Um, okay. Sure. Whatever that means.


So, it’s here and Easter is over. And funny to find out today about the readings from the Mass celebrated by His Holiness Benedict XVI a few weeks back. They certainly weren’t the readings for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter. But apparently they weren’t just some random readings either. They were – you guessed it – Pentecost readings! Not quite today’s readings, being as they were the year B readings. We’re in year A of course.

And all this Easter season we’ve had the rite of blessing and sprinkling of holy water, during which we sing Vidi aquam. And it’s a tough little ten-note snippet, this refrain is.

It’s in 3/8 time, stretching these four simple syllables over 7 bars. The first syllable Vi– is a quarter note F followed by an eighth note G. The second syllable –di is a quarter G, an eighth E, a quarter G, and an eighth F. Third comes the a– in aquam, dotted quarters F G F. The -quam is another dotted quarter F.

You see how all three transitions from one syllable to the next happen on the same note. And for some reason they all give me trouble. The first and third are marginally less troublesome, given that the new syllable at least starts with a consonant. But the transition from the di- in Vidi to the a- of aquam is especially hard. I miss it at least half the time. Something about holding the same note but changing vowel sounds. Can’t do it.


wash-ballet-cindy-ticketBecky comes over for dinner – penne putanesca – and then we head out to the Warner Theatre to see the Washington Ballet’s Cinderella. Or, the ticket says, Septime Webre’s Cinderella.

We go to the Warner every year to see the Washington Ballet perform Septime Webre’s Nutcracker. And we’re up in the balcony every year. So it’s really weird to be down in orchestra seating. It hardly seems like the same theater to me.

The step-sisters are played by men and are thoroughly overdone and campy and annoying and way way way too much. I hate them. Other than them though I quite enjoy the production. Brianne Bland dances Cindy herself. Erin Mahoney-Du is her fairy godmother. And there are apparently seasonal fairies, of which Jade Payette is spring and Elizabeth Gaither is summer. You know, all my favorites.

Jared Nelson is the prince, and Dawn complains because they’ve dressed him in pink.


It is and it isn’t Ascension today. That would’ve technically been May 1, really. But apparently in the Archdiocese of Washington today is Ascension Sunday.

We ride our bikes to church, so we arrive a good twenty minutes early. The 8:30 Mass is still filing out. I ask an usher about this, and he explains that there was a speaker after the Mass. Is why it seems to have run so late. I dash downstairs to use the restroom and notice a poster for the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation. Probably a speaker from/for them. We’ll likely hear him/her as well.

Back upstairs in our pew I get settled, kneeling and trying to pray. But there are still tourists from the earlier Mass wandering around and taking pictures. Seems like nowadays we’ve all got cameras, are always taking pictures, what with the digital cameras now. I’m as guilty as the rest, I suppose.

Bill Culverhouse sings an astonishing piece from Messiah, I’m not sure which piece. Thou art gone up on high; Thou hast led captivity captive, I think. But he’s in fine, wonderful voice this morning, and it’s a little lower than his usual tenor register. As I said, it’s wonderful, except for the tourists still puttering about.

The entrance hymn is A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing. I think we sang this as the closing hymn last week. But it’s totally an Ascension song. I get all excited with the third stanza, knowing the reading that we’ll get getting today.

To whom the shining angels cry,
“Why stand and gaze upon the sky?”

Oh, yeah. That’s right. We’re getting the “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” One of my total favorites.

The hymn’s tune is Lasst uns erfreuen, which Babelfish tells me means “Leave to us a pleasing” in German. I still don’t really get it. It’s an old, old tune, according to ChoralWiki. Written I guess by Pe­ter von Brach­el in 1623, although they seem also to credit it to Ralph Vaughan Williams, apparently because of his 1906 harmony thereto. I’m not sure how that works.

I should really ask Bill Culverhouse about these things. I would if I knew him better. But now he’s leaving us anyway. In June I think.

The readings today are interesting bookends, in a way. The first reading is from the very beginning of Acts. And the Gospel reading is, as Deacon Work announces it, from the conclusion of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. It’d match up even better if the Gospel were from St. Luke. Maybe they do that in other years.

And sure enough, of course, Acts begins with the Ascension of our Lord. Whoosh he goes up in a cloud, and the apostles stand there like dummies looking up at the sky.

While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.
They said, “Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much I love this passage, this exhortation to get to work down here while we’re waiting for him to return. Let’s get it right, people!

The Gospel reading itself is amazing in its own way.

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.

Can you imagine? It sure makes me feel a whole lot better, about my own moments of weakness and doubt. Here are Christ’s very own apostles, who have been with him for however long, who have personally witnessed the miracles. Who have seen him crucified and return from & conquer death. And yet they still doubt. Amazing.

And we do get the dude from the HCEF talking to us after Mass. I’m a little troubled by him, actually. While it sounds like they do good work, with the kids and the educational scholarships and all, I find his/their focus on ensuring a continuing Christian presence in the Holy Land a little disturbing. It’s a bit Crusade-y for my tastes.

The recessional hymn is Go Make of All Disciples. The tune is Ellacombe. I really don’t know and haven’t figured out what that one means. But I do learn that there’s something called an Ellacombe apparatus, something that aids in church bell ringing. And, in one of those little details that makes Wikipedia so great, it says that said apparatus was invented to deal with unruly bell ringers. Who knew they were such trouble.